Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What Are YOUR Itty-Bitty Luxuries?

I've long believed in itty-bitty luxuries, even when I was a young 21-year-old bride right out of college and on a small budget.

By itty-bitty luxuries, I mean the simple and aesthetically-pleasing but usually not-very-costly, things or experiences in life that make you smile and forget your cares for at least a minute or two.

What are your itty-bitty luxuries?

That's the fun part; you get to choose whatever makes your heart sing!

Here are some of my most recent itty-bitty luxuries that  I'm grateful for ...

Leaving the little white twinkle lights from Christmas on our "bistro-ish" dining table to give a romantic ambiance to our dinners at home this year, plus enjoying my new antique silver tray that now holds my collected mercury glass candle holders.  I found the silver tray serendipitously at my favorite clothing consignment shop when I took my clothes there after cleaning out my closet recently.

A fully-stocked healthy-food pantry thanks to sales at Vitacost, plus eBates rebates.  

They are such great $-saving sites!

Scones I made with Namaste gluten-free biscuit mix, adding sunflower seeds and raisins.   Love Namaste healthier foods!*

Our "San Diego snow" viewed from our terrace --  i.e. rain!   Rain is indeed an itty-bitty luxury in San Diego, California since it's usually 68 and sunny here pretty much year-round.

Tulips my sweet hubby brought me from the grocery store last week.  I love their yellow color against the bright green of our charming little pocket park below, which is another one of our itty-bitty luxuries because it's just so cute that it brings me great simple pleasure.

The raindrops on my tulips are a blessing, you know?

And then the tulips sweetly opened up for us when the sun came out again!

Recent useful and pretty Goodwill real silver purchases totalling just $17.97.

Having a handy little stacker washer and dryer right in our apartment is an itty-bitty luxury indeed because not many apartments in San Diego have in-home laundry facilities.

It works like a charm!

Finding the perfect-size beverage dispenser, (at Ross for just $19.99), that fits on our dining nook coffee/tea bar, which is now our "beverage bar" instead.  

I enjoy having fresh fruit water at-the-ready every day!  And the dispenser will also work great for punch or lemonade when we entertain others in our home.

Noticing this beautiful hand-painted mural on the back of a mall store when my hubs and I were out the other day.  An itty-bitty luxury indeed to find such a thing on the back of a drab mall store!!

Painted by Wall-it Graphics.  Phone 619-469-3772 if you live in San Diego, CA and want to hire them to paint one for you!  (I don't know them, but tell them you saw it on my blog, please.)

Savoring a Sunday lunch outing with my hubby at the lovely Del Mar Hilton, which has been all redecorated since I was there years ago.  (It's so pretty I'll show you those design pix in another post.)

Appreciating that in front of the Del Mar Hilton, they even grow their own produce for our healthy salads. Wow!  I love the farm-to-table movement that's so popular in SoCal now.  And our lunch at the Del Mar Hilton was just delicious.

I hope you'll take a look around your home, and your life, and see if you might want to implement a few more itty-bitty luxuries for yourself.

Celebrating the art of simple, charming, elegant living!

Kathryn :) 

*Full Disclosure:  Namaste Foods sent me the scone mix gratis but my opinion that their scones are scrumptious is soley my own.   :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Our New DIY Bed Canopy, Thanks to Goodwill!

Blame it on Goodwill!

My hubs and I put up this new DIY  "Bed & Breakfast Inn-style" bed canopy last weekend.

And it's Goodwill's fault.

Seriously, it is.   :) 

And here's why ...

I found these Old World-ish gold drapery tie-backs at the La Jolla Goodwill a few months ago and ...

I stored them under our bed in a bin, not knowing what I'd use them for.

But knowing I would use them somewhere in our little abode, sooner or later, because well ....

They were just too pretty to pass up, and they "go" with our home's Old World-ish cozy elegance look.

And so, here's what happened one day, my friends ...

In the same bin under my bed, I keep scads of white flowy sheer rod-pocket white and ivory drapes in every size and length from about every single place we've lived in over the years.

Partly I keep them all, every time we move, because some never fit quite right on our newest home's windows so I keep adding to them and then I mix and match the next go-around of a household move.

And partly I keep them because I use them for other things like chair tie-backs or dining table covers etc., because just  like your fave little black go-to dress in your clothing closet ...

Sheer white drapes just simply go ...

With everything!

And if you don't use them on your windows, they make a great bed canopy too for not much $ outlay.

These gorgeous knobs were also part of the four-piece Old World-ish set of drapery hardware from Goodwill and I had my hubs hang them on the wall because I thought they were just too great of architectural interest to not display somehow, even if they're not being used for something functional. 

Aren't they nifty as a little architectural accent?

My hubs is very precise when it comes to measuring.

And he always uses a level tool.

Which sometimes drives me a  little crazy, because walls are often crooked, so the item being hung, although perfectly "leveled" with the level, (according to the Man of the House), looks annoyingly crooked, (according to the Lady of the House), who prefers that things be hung so they look straight to one's eye, vs. to the "exact numerical science" of the husband's level tool.  :) 

Well, that's what you get when two OCD-ish personalities -- one left-brained numbers guy + one right-brained creative word lady, marry young and nest together ... for nearly 35 years now.

In other words ...

You learn the fine art of marital negotiation.    :)

The other challenge with this particular project was that I'm simply not tall enough (5' 8") to hang these curtains at the top of our 10' walls.  But guess what?  My 6' 2" husband is tall enough, bless his tall-man heart.

So guess who did the hanging labor, and you know who ...

directed from the floor below.

There simply was no other DIY way, because when you're that close up physically to the hanging of the drapes, you can't see how it really looks from the floor.

So if you try this, it's really best to have two people in on the deal.

Tell your husband I said so.  :) 

All diligent attempts, (numerous!), at doing some kind of romantic-looking fantasy loopy thing on the rod like we did last year ...


Because of reasons I no longer remember, but it was something to do with that particular curtain length or such.

And so, after much trial and error, we, (i.e. he), simply wound the drape around the rod and tied it on the ends in a knot.

With me directing from the floor.

But of course you already knew that.  :)

Alas, when we were all done with this project, we both were happy with how it turned out and we actually like it even better than the other "canopies" and headboard-y things we've hung together before ...

Here.    And here.     And here.    And here.    And here!

I told you we're both a little OCD-ish.  :)

And yes, we're both also incurable romantics, each in our own unique way.

We're feeling even more like we're sleeping at our very own cozy Bed & Breakfast Inn now.

So we're thinking that all we need to do in the future is install a jacuzzi tub for two, like this one.

Or this one.  :)

And put out some strawberries, champagne, plush new monogrammed towels, and cozy spa robes.

Ah, be still, our Bed & Breakfast inn-obsessed heart.   :)

The little cream and brown floral pitcher on my nightstand?

Goodwill too.

Two of them in perfect condition, marked down to just $8 total.

LOVE La Jolla's Goodwill!

After we finished our bedroom project we were tired and hungry.

And so we dined, (in spirit anyway!), at this little charming table, with its incredible seaside view.

And yes, I bought this elegant picture, already nicely matted and in a lovely gold frame, at ...

Glorious, glorious, Goodwill.

Celebrating the art of simple, charming, elegant living!

Kathryn :) 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Brunch Escape with Van Gogh

Last post I wrote about the importance of having a "Secret Escape Plan."  By that I mean a special place not too far from where you live where you can retreat for solitude, beautiful surroundings, and rest.  

Personally, we never tell anyone when we are escaping, and we prefer it that way, but of course, that's up to you whether or not you want to tell others, depending on your particular penchant for privacy.

A reader commented to me that she lives in the cold Midwest and although they go someplace for a getaway, she wishes there was somewhere warm close by.

I hear you.  I really do.  Because my husband and I grew up in the frozen tundra of the Midwest Plains and lived there, (i.e. painfully endured it!), until we were 40 years old and then decided to move to sunny San Diego, CA, where we still live. 

Some ideas for that cold-weather challenge:

One thing we used to do when we lived in the cold Midwest was to check ourselves in to the type of hotel right near our home that had colorful indoor flora and fauna around their indoor pool for a "faux" tropical vacation. Two nights there in February with a good book and a dip in the pool sure helped us get through the long winter.  Just seeing living green plants and flowers instead of brown sticks and snow outside worked miracles!

We also used to go to cozy B&B inns within a 60 mile radius of where we lived.  I mapped them all out ahead of time and kept a list of possibilities.   Sitting by the fire with a hot cup of tea and scones there did the trick--that's how we started that little hobby of ours and we never stopped!  (Inns have become more lavish and much more expensive over the years as the inn industry in the U.S. has evolved.   However there are still good deals to be had depending on where you live, and if you can go on short notice, same day, or can stay on week nights. Also, some will honor the AAA discount.)  My favorite inn site is I Love Inns.

But if you can't do the hotel or B&B m.o. for whatever reason, you can head to your nearest floral shop or buy flowers online and place as many of them around your home in winter that you can afford.  Bright ones! Orchids are lovely and come in SO many colors.  I also used to fill the garden window that jutted out above my kitchen sink with colorful flowers.

Also, we used to take a bus tour to the Kansas City spring flower and home show which was ripe with colorful floral displays. That helped too. Maybe there's one near where you live?  Google it.   

We also decorated our home with floral sofas, wallpaper, and paintings from our favorite local artist to help us feel like we had blooming spring/summer around us all the time too, even when the snow was coming down.  Sitting on my tulip-patterned sofa with hot tea in hand, helped.

Just a few ideas to help you get through those tough cold winters a little easier.

Spring will come, my friends.

Something we did while on our recent "Secret Escape Plan" was dress up for Sunday brunch at a favorite elegant restaurant and wear our matching Van Gogh "Outdoor Cafe" scarf and tie which show the artist's romantic painting of dining al fresco.

Great fun!  Van Gogh must be smiling to know his paintings happily live on, don't you think?

We chose the most elegant brunch place surrounded by the prettiest grounds and flora and fauna that we could find.

Even some "faux flora!"  And this is something you could paint at home if you live in the cold, too.   Not hard to do or hire a local high school or college art student to paint it for you.

After brunch, my hubby found the best seat on the grounds, near the pool, don't you think?

You ARE crafting your own next "Secret Escape Plan" aren't you?

And putting fresh colorful flowers in your home?

Life is short, my friends, so I really hope you do!

Celebrating the art of simple, charming, elegant living!

Kathryn :)